ONCE UPON A TIME......
Barrow in Furness had an active branch of the Communist Party of its very own. It upheld the May 1st celebration of International Workers' Solidarity and attended the May Day Gala at Barrow's public park with its own professional
market stall selling Communist/Socialist literature, posters and badges.
The branch continued to support the Gala even after the local Labour Party and Trade Union Council dumped responsibility for organising the
event into the welcoming arms of The Charities who saw this as a great fund-raising opportunity. It was not long before the new 'Gala Committee' rid the event of any unseemly political activity and, not long after that, the field in the park was used to site the new sports centre (with swimming pool).
Local CP members became too embroiled in the Inner Party conflict (between the Marxist-Leninist loyalists and the EuroCommunist revisionists) to have any energy left for May Day activity and nobody else was interested. The local CP became 'South Lakes CP' - a talking shop of no consequence and even less relevance. Thus May Day in Barrow and the rest of the Furness peninsula was forgotten - just as it is to this very day.
The Socialist Observer, illustrated here, was produced and distributed by Barrow CP but fell victim to the turbulent reactionary political events of the time and only three editions were published (three years before the collapse of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the re-establishment of the Party as the Communist Party of Britain)
Furness people at that time did not understand that when Tories make an announcement, what they say is not necessarily what they mean. For example, when Cecil Franks, Tory parliamentary candidate, used the slogan 'Trident means jobs' the locals thought this was a promise of job creation and security. Not so; soon after the Trident project got under way, the shipyard offloaded 11,000 jobs - just as the local CND group said would happen (but who listens to CND, eh?) Then Thatcher declared "The NHS is safe in our hands!" whereas what she really meant was "The NHS safe is in our hands!" and was followed by hospital ward closures. Arthur Scargill, National Union of Mineworkers' Union leader, warned the Tories planned to close over seventy pits. The Tories denied it, smashed the NUM whilst the TUC looked on, then shut down over seventy mines.
And now we have Tory leader Cameron spouting about 'The Big Society' when he and his millionaire cronies are actually creating 'The Pig Society' for themselves at the expense of everyone else. Well at least the people of Furness don't mind being ripped off so Tory policies are perfectly acceptable here, or so it would seem.
But the local electorate returned a borough council with an overwhelming Labour Party majority in the recent election and the constituency has a Labour Party Member of Parliament so that's an impressive force with which to support a Furness campaign against the Tory/LibDem coalition government's attack on the NHS and the Welfare State, isn't it? Isn't it?
Well, isn't it? Yes, or no? (Watch this space)